now turning to a different facet of digging into this coronavirus issue as it spreads around the nation and thinking about what governments are able to do consider Italy which is on basically a full lockdown how do quarantines work and how would they happen in the United States we have a constitution that does was discuss the idea that the federal government can make any regulations that basically prevent the spread of communicable diseases that’s a federal law the Constitution meanwhile has other rights to cut against that now keep in mind that while quarantines thus far and all of the talk you hear about limiting or even quote banning large gatherings are for the most part voluntary well what if they weren’t consider when you had a flu pandemic over a hundred years ago CDC released an example of a coronavirus quarantine order that could look like mandating that infected individuals simply cooperate with health officials but also authorize other deterrence for example a criminal fine or even up to one year in jail for violating a quarantine order now the United States has different rights of course than many other places consider China a country that has basically a more authoritarian style control of government far fewer civil liberties no resort to the courts for a lot of citizens but they utilize that kind of set of powers to contain the virus The Wall Street Journal reporting for example the sealing off of an entire area will Han promise province which dispatched armies of low-level enforcers to guard the gates of compounds and tap data from state-run mobile carriers to track down people who slipped those lock downs and had volunteers go door-to-door in apartment buildings to record people’s body temperatures that’s obviously very invasive and farther than what most Americans consider the role of government so we don’t believe and we’re not reporting tonight that the United States is looking at things like that and yet the International part of this international pandemic is a big story for more on this we want to bring in a guest that we use for so many important legal questions as part of our opening argument series former acting Solicitor General Neil Koch ah a tough time but good evening to you sir good evening Neil when we talk about quarantines when we talk about things the government tells and advises versus mandates how should we be thinking about this particularly if as I just heard experts tell me minutes ago we are in still the calm period before a potential health crisis storm yeah I think re the Constitution in the federal and state laws and localities regulations altogether really give all these governments sweeping powers to deal with the crisis so in a way the law is actually not the problem here I mean the Supreme Court in 1900 said it was beyond question that the federal government has quarantine powers and the states and localities can impose any number of movement or crowd restrictions as well and as you just noted the federal statute says if you violate a federal quarantine you can get fined up to a hundred thousand dollars put in jail for a year and the like so you’ve got that you’ve also got the power to restrict movement and travel you know President Trump tried that yesterday a little bit you know the problem there is not again the law it’s the kind of haphazard policy you know closing it to Europe but not to the UK and not closing it for all of Europe so those are all policy problems but actually in general the law is not going to stand in the way there’ll be some restraints like if you’re if you’re doing it on a discriminatory basis like the San Francisco in 1900 said if you were a Chinese you’ve had to get inoculated against the bubonic plague but only the Chinese and the federal court said no you can’t do that I mean you got to prove that the Chinese were like uniquely susceptible or something to it which they couldn’t it was just done out of racism so you know if we went down that path and you know I sure hope we don’t see even with this president’s proclivities I sure hope we don’t do that if we do though be some court challenges on that front but otherwise there are sweeping powers for the government here you know governor Inslee was speaking quite starkly this week in Washington and we just heard from a mayor there about penalties and he made a broader point I mean you’re speaking to the fact that there plenty of authority for a actual bona fide justified public health emergency but he spoke about something higher than the law take a listen how far does this extend to personal events like parties like weddings like funerals and then what are the penalties exactly for not abiding by the ban the penalties are you might be killing your granddad if you don’t do it and I’m serious about this what do you think about that and the way government officials try to instill seriousness within the law without a panic that’s a hundred percent right re I mean yeah there are penalties for violating all of these different government restrictions but at the bottom this shouldn’t be about penalties this is about your own conscience and what you’re willing to do and what you’re willing to risk and anyone you know we’re all in this together and we all have to do everything we can to avoid the spread of the disease and flatten the curve the law is a piece of it but it’s the tiniest piece of it it’s all about our individual actions and so I think the governor got it exactly right you know this is why we’re all so very different than China you know China did in addition to the movement restrictions they’re literally tracking everyone’s cell phones WeChat and other things so they can determine if anyone’s moving out of their restricted areas or into the restricted areas they can go and get them with their military and you know we don’t want to go down that path and we’re a country of liberty and freedom but we’re also a country in which we view ourselves as having a communitarian responsibility to one another and we should need the law to do this we should need apps to be tracked or anything like that but if it comes to that unfortunate you know fortunately the government does have powers to do things like impose movement restrictions Neil Cacho with a lot of context here thank you so much hey I’m already Melbourne from MSNBC you can see more of our videos right here or better yet subscribe to our YouTube channel below you could have been anywhere in the world that you’re here with us and we appreciate that

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